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Monday, September 22, 2008

Legends and a real life Legend

I am in London this week for a conference on inhibitors; I'll be speaking Wednesday to a group of nurses, as a guest of Grifols, manufacturers of Alphanate and Alphanine. I came early to visit my old friend Bill Boughton, who lives in Somerset, two hours west of London. Bill is an inspiration: we met over the phone at least 10 years ago when he began, at the age of 75, to get involved in helping boys with hemophilia in Romania get factor. Imagine! His connection to Romania? He and his wife adopted a Morgan, a 7-year-old Romanian orphan.

Bill has since then helped Project SHARE get some factor to Romania. (Grifols is also a sponsor of Project SHARE). He also attended two summer camps in Romania, created and sponsored by STAR Children Relief, directed by our mutual friend Adriana Henderson. There was Bill, age 83, driving from London to the Black Sea to befriend some lovely but very poor boys with hemophilia. And he did it all with wit, charm, incredible energy, and genuine generosity. He since sponsors a young man with hemophilia there.

So in coming to England it would be hard not to visit this octogenarian volunteer, who simply forgets his age. He loves life, and he engages fully in it. I took a 6-hour flight to London, and the next day (yesterday) took a lovely two-hour train ride through the countryside to see Bill and his other daughter Emma, age 23. It was a great reunion, and not one to sit still long, Bill invited me to come and see nearby Glastonbury.

Glastonbury is a charming town with an amazing reputation: site of the fabled Avalon, home of King Arthur. Indeed, at the ruins of the medieval abbey, which were stunning, we saw the "graves" of King Arthur and Guinevere. Glastonbury is reputed to have had the oldest Christian Church in England, and is a pilgrimage site. Also it is reputed to be where Joseph of Arimathea, said uncle to Jesus, came. Joseph of Arimathea is famous for asking Pilate for the body of Jesus, and burying it in the tomb he had intended for himself. In the poem "Jerusalem," by poet and writer William Blake, the question is posed whether Jesus himself came to England, to Glastonbury with his uncle?

Another myth says that Joseph, upon reaching Glastonbury, planted his staff, which immediately blossomed into a thorn tree, which flowered every Christmas day. Cromwell ordered the tree cut down, and it is said that as it fell, its thorns blinded the axe man in his eye. Glastonbury is full of superstitions, healers, tarot card readers, and alternative medicine shops. Allegedly, some of them sell leaves that sprout from a cutting of the original thorn tree. Interesting stuff!

One more myth: Joseph is said to have buried the Holy Grail (the cup Jesus drank from at the Last Supper) just below the Tor (hill), where a spring began to flow and the water was supposed to bring eternal youth to whoever would drink it. I looked everywhere desperately for such water, but alas I am still 50! I do think Bill found it some time ago: not only does he carry on like someone half his age, he doesn't look at all 85. Is it the water, or his love of helping others that keeps him young at heart and health?

(I'll report on my meeting on Wednesday. This coming weekend I fly to Dallas for a fundraiser with the Dallas chapter, which should be quite a contrast to Glastonbury!)

Photos: Bill, Emma, Laurie at Glastonbury

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